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Lost down a pot hole

This week: Queen Elizabeth II; Lost down a pothole; Flat Tyres; Wasted week; Flower power;

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth the Second 1926 – 2022

It was with great sadness that the world learned that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had passed away on Thursday afternoon.

I have never met The Queen, although I have been very close during Royal Visits.

I have been fortunate to have been invited to two investitures at Buckingham Palace and met HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and more recently Prince, now King Charles III.

Meeting HRH Prince, Now King Charles
Meeting HRH Prince, Now King Charles

My last operational job in the UK was as the operational planning manager for the 2002 Jubilee visits.

On the 31st July 2002 I was just a few meters away from Her Majesty as she left Scunthorpe by Royal Train.

Royal Visit planning is something interesting but not especially unusual. Except that in 2002 Her Majesty was visiting a Mosque for the very first time.

That caused some head scratching about the protocols involved…

Queen Elizabeth in Scunthorpe in 2002
Queen Elizabeth in Scunthorpe in 2002

Over the years I remember seeing the Royal party on many occasions, the first when she attended a Royal Wedding at York Minster.

When I joined the police service, I took my Oath of Office and allegiance to The Queen in front of a Justice of the Peace and for almost all my service I have worn the Royal cypher, EIIR.

Cap badges with Royal cypher
My cap badges with the Royal cypher

When the Humber Bridge was formally opened on the 17th July 1981, I spent the day in a van as part of a tactical reserve.

Official opening of the Humber Bridge
Official opening of the Humber Bridge

In July 1987 during another visit to the county, I was at the Humberside Fire Brigade headquarters which was being officially opened by Her Majesty.

HRH The Queen's Rolls Royce
HRH The Queen’s Rolls Royce

Talking this week to neighbours from various countries, there was universal sadness.

The comment which was most often made, was that if you spoke about “The Queen”, everyone knew exactly who you meant.

Talk about “The President” and you have to be explicit and say which one…

When The Queen parachuted into the Olympic stadium to open the London Olympics, it showed how taking part in something was in Her nature.

It was repeated in June this year when she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee by taking tea with the most famous of all brown bears, Paddington.

After 70 years on the throne, I do not remember anyone else, being born after Princess Elizabeth became Queen.

The second Elizabethan age has drawn to a close and we now enter the new Carolean era (from the old French for Charles).

It has been an honour to serve Her Majesty in the ancient Office of Constable, without fear or favour, malice or ill will……

After the Jubilee party
After the Jubilee party – 2022 Painting by North Ferriby artist Eleanor Tomlinson

Lost down a pot hole

I now have eight years of data from my weather station.

Eighty would be better, but as the climate breakdown continues, I can see the changes in my small part of the world, even over such a short time frame.

With thousands and thousands of data point recordings it is incumbent on me to use them.

Every five minutes of every day throughout the year, the latest data points are uploaded to various international weather service providers. This along with data from many similar weather stations help make their forecasting more accurate.

But what about making use of my data locally to help gardeners and growers, especially me?

The spreadsheet and charting programme Microsoft Excel makes it easy once the data has been entered, to then produce graphical representations of all those numbers.

Average temperatures to mid July
Average temperatures to mid July

I have a single work sheet, with a workbook for each year’s data, then further analysis workbooks to to drag data in for every year. It helps if you think of the workbooks being like individual pages in a folder, which is the worksheet.

This is all done using commands and formulae. I only enter data once, then commands move it around the different workbooks.

I am especially interested in the high temperatures and the precipitation pattern.

This is so next year I can plant different vegetables which will not suffer from heat or drought stress.

However I need to not just look at this year’s data, but also go back to my first records to look for trends. The data is there, it is just making sense of it.

I have been working this week on a development that will track Cardinal temperatures. This started with extending the 2022 worksheet to include temperature ranges derived from the daily temperature recordings I have.

Excel development sheet
Excel development sheet

When I started to delve online into cardinal temperatures, it was rather like descending into a pothole without a bottom. I did discover several interesting facts though from the scientific literature.

One of the most important is that research has shown that it is an 11 day average temperature which most affects the germination of seeds and growth of plants. This is rather than an individual day or longer or shorter periods of temperatures.

Most seeds germinate around 10ºC or above and growth really starts at 16ºC.

So far we have had 98 days in 2022 where the temperature has been above 30ºC, a temperature where plants stop growing.

After a day delving around the dark recesses of the internet I came up with some temperature groups which are applicable to the climate here in Dol.

I then added them into a worksheet.

That sentence of seven words actually hides 800 separate calculations and formulae, which had to be added, looking something like this: =COUNTIF(J6:Q6,”<0.1″)

Then everything has to be checked to make sure there are no errors.

Every spare minute this week I have been writing, copying and checking formulae. At the end of the week, I have finished 2022 and now need to copy everything for each year I have data for.

I’ll let you know when it is finished…

Flat tyres

For anyone who hasn’t lived here, it is difficult to comprehend the day to day difficulties of having a highly restricted range of shop goods to choose from.

Take Tuesday for example. I was going to mix some mortar but I needed my wheelbarrow. When I moved it, I had a puncture.

This is an old wheelbarrow which was here in one of the Konobas when I bought the property. So it is probably a minimum of thirty years old.

I removed the wheel from the barrow and locked it in my Black and Decker WorkMate in the sunlit courtyard.

Then with a set of tyre levers I removed the outer cover.

The rubber cover is a tight fit, which I remembered is because when the original outer cover perished, I couldn’t get the exact size, so bought the only one that Volat had in stock, a 3.50-8.

What I had wanted was a 4.0-8, so near enough had to be good enough!

I removed the inner tube and quickly found the puncture. In my workshop I have puncture repair kits on hand, so soon had a patch on the leak.

while it was drying, I felt inside the tyre to see if there was something sticking through which had caused the puncture. There wasn’t.

My large mulching machine also had a slow puncture, so I decided to repair that at the same time.

When I came to look at the tyre, it has also perished and I could put my hand through the sidewall. That was what has caused the puncture. It has had several punctures before.

Mulching machine inner tube
Mulching machine inner tube

So off I went to try and get a new tyre. It is a 4.1/3.5-4. No one had one in stock, nothing even approaching the size I needed, so I came home.

As I was putting the tyre outer cover onto the wheel barrow rim, I heard the inner tube start leaking, so off everything came again. Another patch was fixed to the inner tube and left to dry.

This time I was more careful when I was refitting the tyre. As I was blowing the tyre up, I could hear the unmistakable sound of leaking air.

At which point, having started at 9 am and it then being just after 4, I gave up!

Going online, I found a complete wheel, axle, inner tube and tyre in Zagreb for €12 with delivery, so I ordered it, and also the small size tyre I need in Dubrovnik, so ordered that too.

New tyre and wheel
New wheel barrow tyre and wheel

Based on my experience here I did not expected my new wheelbarrow tyre until next week. So I was astounded when the delivery driver brought it at lunch time on Thursday. Sometimes you can get excellent service here…

Wasted week

After starting the week with all kinds of plans, I feel that I have not achieved any of the results I had been hoping for.

The problem is that everything is dependant on something else, and when you fall at the first hurdle – being unable to move the wheel barrow – it goes down hill from there.

Friends were arriving from Germany on Thursday, but because of rough weather they came by the catamaran to Grad Hvar, so I went to collect them.

Catamaran from Split
The Catamaran from Split

I had forgotten how much I hate Hvar in the summer. There are thousands of visitors just mooching around, eating over priced ice cream and sitting drinking over priced coffee.

The Catamaran was on time and we were soon on our way back to Stari Grad, where we had a really enjoyable lunch.

On Friday I met a friend in Jelsa for coffee. A morning of convivial conversation, coffee and croissant soon passed and I came home with a request for a new website to combine weather and climate data with soil and growth data to help gardeners and horticulturists on the island.

I am going to have to upgrade my weather station with a new model (it is 12 years old), because I will need some Parrot soil temperature and moisture sensors.

I’ll think about it next week after I catch up…..

Flower power

I now have four different Lantana Camara shrubs.

They are native to the West Indies and have made their home across Mediterranean climates.

I have varieties with pink, yellow, flame and yellow and pink and yellow flowers. At this time of year they are all covered in butterflies.

Pink Lanatana
Pink Lanatana
Yellow Lantana
Yellow Lantana
Pink and yellow Lantana
Pink and yellow Lantana
Flame and yellow Lantana
Flame and yellow Lantana
One of dozens of butterflies feeding
One of dozens of big butterflies feeding

Also in flower at the moment are my Goji berry bushes, Lycium barbarum. The flowers are small but colourful and it looks as though I will have a lot of fruit this winter.

Goji Berry blossom
Goji Berry blossom

Only one variety of my Buddleja is happy here, the one from Madagascar. My northern European Buddleja davidii are surviving, just, but have not enjoyed this summer’s heat and drought.

White Buddleja
White Buddleja
Purple Buddleja
Purple Buddleja with wilting leaves

Despite their being on my nightly watering schedule, the flower racemes are really small, although the butterflies seem to like feeding on them too.

Rocket seedlings
Rocket seedlings

On Monday I planted some Rocket seeds in the vegetable plot. Rocket, Eruca vesicaria, is a winter green here. What took me by surprise was than on Thursday the seeds have germinated.

That is what a warm soil and irrigation water will do! NCG

3 Responses

  1. Tony Griggs

    We feel a profound sense of loss with the Queens passing Norman, something that is hard to express in words. We have just came home to our Flinders Island after 4 months away but both laden with the flu ( even though we both took flu jabs). Yes, tourists have a tendency to jack up prices and ruin many things. We were looking at going to see the gorillas in Uganda in January but they deal in US dollars down there now and our fellow Americans have had an undue influence. The price was outrageous! So that’s off our list! Best you stay away from the water during the tourist period!

  2. Marcy

    Norman, Although not a British citizen, I loved and admired Her Majesty. She is and always will be an icon of integrity, courage, and strength. She was a woman ahead of her time, and I will miss her as much as I miss Princess Diana. (you may want to change HM death year to 2022 on your blog).

    I loved the pictures of the flowers. I remember seeing the Lantana in AD and Dubai. They were beautiful.

    I am always amazed at all you do on a daily basis. Your weather studies, plant studies, repairs, creations, etc. are an inspiration to all who enjoy your weekly blog.

    I hope you are well, safe, and recovered from the bee sting.


  3. Lynn Woolsey

    Thinking of you, Norman. You’ve had quite extraordinary events to remember. The mishaps and mis-steps make me smile. Love the data collection and your persistence. The data, however, are shocking. I always enjoy the information and photos of the plants. Lantana is a favorite of mine. Now, it’s about time to spin some yarn about the cats!